Update from liberated Kherson, Ukraine. New judgement on involuntary termination of pregnancy – #IncludeNews November 2022

Overview of news, reports, policies relevant to people with intellectual disabilities and their families in Europe.

Update from liberated Kherson, Ukraine. New judgement on involuntary termination of pregnancy - #IncludeNews November 2022

#IncludeNews bring you updates about work done for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in Europe. This post is updated with new information during the month.


Raisa Kravchenko and Yuliia Klepets joined The Finnish Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities on 10 November to talk about situation of people with intellectual disabilities and families in Ukraine:

Raisa said:

  • “Now on top of the military attacks, there are also electricity blackouts because of attack on infrastructure. My internet may switch off at any moment.”
  • “Support services are mostly closed. All the resources need to go to the military, the authorities say. We are grateful for all the international support that helps us get some support and restore at least some of the support services.”
  • “There are 4,000 new people who went into institutions during this year, since the February attack.”

Yuliia said:

  • “Having the support of personal assistant, or some day services is great help. Both form me, caring for my daughter and mother. And for my daughter too.”
  • “My daughter can’t sleep any more, as a result of the electricity blackouts. It impacts on her.”


You can help people with intellectual disabilities in Ukraine by donating here.


The City of Kherson was liberated from Russian occupation on 11 November. This is a message from the local organisation, member of VGO Coalition:

  • The organisation was established in March 2014 in Kherson.
  • “In eight and a half years, we have changed the treatment of children with Down syndrome in Kherson and Kherson region for the better,” said Iryna Khanikova, head of the organisation. “Almost every kindergarten has inclusive groups, most gymnasiums are ready to accept and teach children with special educational needs, sports, theater and choreography studios work with our children. We have become a pretty cool friendly team.”
“But the war ruined our plans.
  • When Kherson was occupied, several families went abroad, several families evacuated to safer regions of Ukraine, several families remained in the city and region.
  • We continued our activities by changing the format of communication. Every day we consulted families in Viber, supported each other, communicated with children. The inclusive theatre studio “Light in you” continued their meetings online. Families left behind in the occupation continued to meet in the inclusive space of children’s dreams “Sunny World”…
  • When the connection was completely gone, we realized that what we’ve been waiting for so long is coming. Every family all night followed the news in chats and in the city itself. That was the hardest night ever.”

When our military entered Kherson, we all cried from happiness: and those abroad, and those in safe cities of Ukraine, and those who met heroes personally!

  • Our team has become more creative, friendlier, stronger and more united during this time.
  • We sincerely thank everyone who has supported us in this difficult time, who was with us, who helped us.
  • And we look forward to all our families coming together in the free invincible Kherson! “

Two persons standing over Kherson written in blue and yellow on the road, in Cyrilic

You can help people with intellectual disabilities in Ukraine by donating here.


Court rules in favour of women who had pregnancies terminated against their will

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued its judgment on a case involving the rape, and involuntary termination of pregnancies, of women with intellectual disabilities in Moldova.

  • The 3 women “have intellectual disabilities of varying levels of severity and were all institutionalised in the Bălți neuropsychiatric residential asylum at some point in time, during which they retained full legal capacity.”
  • “Having been raped on various occasions by one of the head doctors in the asylum, all three claim to have fallen pregnant and been forced to have an abortion and to have had contraceptive coils implanted without their consent.”
  • “On 19 November 2019 F.S. was finally convicted of raping a total of 16 female residents of the Bălți asylum, including all three applicants. He was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. The final judgment cited two witness statements mentioning M.P.’s pregnancy and her referral to the Bălți maternity hospital for an abortion.”
  • The women “complained that they had been subjected to involuntary abortions and birth-control measures and that the authorities had failed to carry out an effective investigation into the matter.”

The ECHR “considered that the invasive medical interventions, combined with the applicants’ vulnerability due to their gender, disability and institutionalisation, were sufficiently serious to come within the scope of Article 3 of the Convention.

The Court:

  • “Concluded that the authorities had failed to carry out an effective investigation into the applicants’ allegations of ill-treatment despite it having been reopened on four occasions following their appeals. The inquiry had not factored in their vulnerability as intellectually disabled women exposed to sexual abuse in an institutional context” (a violation of the procedural limb of Article 3, prohibition of torture).
  • “Observed the paternalistic tone of the 1994 ministerial order concerning termination of pregnancies in respect of persons with intellectual disabilities. On the one hand, the order indicated intellectual disability as a contraindication for pregnancy without any further assessment of medical risks, which by itself was contrary to international standards. On the other hand, the order excluded the women concerned from being involved in the decision-making process concerning their own pregnancies.”
  • “Found that the Government had failed to demonstrate the existence of any legal provisions, safeguards and mechanisms meant to enable persons like G.M., T.M. and M.P., who were intellectually disabled but had not been deprived of their legal capacity, to express valid and fully informed consent for medical interventions. Even the 2020 updated national standards seemed to transfer the decision to the legal representative.”
  • “Found that the existing legal framework fell short of the requirement inherent in the State’s duty to establish and apply effectively a system providing protection to women living in psychiatric institutions against serious breaches of their integrity.”

Read also:


Institutionalisation and segregation

  • Deaths and abuse in “care” institutions in Czechia. Respekt magazine investigates death and abuse of people with severe intellectual disabilities and autism in institutions. Some cases have been kept from public view until this article was published.
  • ‘Barbaric’: Hundreds with learning disabilities kept locked up for years: “Adam Downs is being detained indefinitely at a high security unit with paedophiles, murders and rapists. Not because he has committed a crime, but because he has learning disabilities and autism. He has spent more than half his life locked up.”


Survey on experience with school inclusion in Finland

The survey gathered information on families’ experiences and views on the smooth running of the child’s schooling and school life, as well as on the implementation of learning support.

595 parents responded to the survey:

  • “Parents were left with a great responsibility for arranging suitable support measures. Around half of parents felt that the child had not received support in a timely manner. Some families had to fight for years to get support.”
  • “Adequate support has not followed students from special education to general education, although it is necessary for the success of school inclusion.”
  • “Implementation of support for learning and school attendance varies a lot in different municipalities and schools, and is implemented inadequately in many places. The lack of adequate support measures puts children in need of support at a disadvantage.”


Employment campaigns:

  • Spain: 1 in 5 people with intellectual disabilities of working age are unemployed. 
  • Ireland: Slow paced growth in work opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. 17% have a job.
  • Inclusion Europe received the European Citizen’s Prize from the European Parliament for our project promoting employment of people with intellectual disabilities.


News from our members:

  • The president of Slovakia visited a social enterprise run by Inclusion Slovakia, and employing people with intellectual disabilities. 


Accessibility of digital services

Ombudsperson for The Elderly in Finland is concerned that many elderly people do not have access to services in a digital society. “There are 600,000 Finns involved, and that’s a lot.” This also concerns many people with disabilities.

The ombudsperson proposes measures for a society where digital is increasingly taking over:

  1. Municipalities should provide access to online service (free internet, eg in a library)
  2. Services must be available in non-online way (eg by phone, face to face)


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